Team building through prototyping

There was a lot going on in the MakeShop last week.  My favorite moments occurred during an hour or so spent with a group of really fun kids.  We all started out as individuals working on individual projects.  Three of the kids; Zeph, Scott and Zach, were very interested in taking things apart.  The three of them all seemed very open minded about the process of taking something apart.  I believe it was that collective open mindedness that allowed them to team up so easily.

Like I said, the three of them started taking things apart.  That lead to testing things out that we found in our electronic devices.  They all found a lot of working motors.  Someone spoke up and said, “we should make something.”  We decided to collectively use the motors we found to create a project.  We thought about the kinds of things motors do.  We all stumbled upon the idea of making a wheel spin.  The kids decided to create a robot dog named Arfy 2000; their motorized wheels would allow the robot to move.

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We immediately started building, we found some wooden wheels in a different area of the Shop and glued them to our motors.  I introduced the idea of building a prototype.  I explained that the way we were testing and trying things out is exactly the way other people develope new things.  I also explained that it didn’t matter if our project worked or not; as long as we continued to try out new things.  Sometimes the act of developing and protoyping something is much more rewarding than the final project itself.  It was very interesting to watch these three kids work.  They really got into the spirit of prototyping.  They ended up attaching two motorized wheels to a piece of circuit board.  We powered the motorized wheels by attaching wires to our motors and a battery pack.  We attempted to create an on/off switch but that didn’t work out to well.  A fourth kid joined our group and showed us a neat way to mount a third wheel on the circuit board.  This helped out immmensely.  It was great having so many minds work on the same project.  Everyone brought something new to the table. 

In the end our robot didn’t work to well; but that wasn’t a problem for us because we new it was just a prototype.  I told the kids that I would keep Arfy 2000 in the Shop and let other visitors add to the project.  Maybe someone would have an idea that we couldn’t think of or a solution to our problems.  I was just happy that a group of individuals were able to team up and work on a project.